Bill Gothard’s interpretation and practice on Adoption and my response

April 23, 2016    

What does adopted mean to you Moderator could you define the term for us?

Um . . . adopted, not biological? Context being, that Bill did recommend in some cases that out of control adopted young people be separated permanently from the adoptive family, using the example and mandate of Ishmael in Abraham’s day. No issue has evoked more violent reactions, hence I sought to clarify that, as far as I knew, there was nothing of this sort of thing in play here.

April 24, 2016    

On what authority did Bill recommend this? please cite the specific text

April 24, 2016    

On what authority did Bill recommend this? please cite the specific text

I did cite the story, but I will give more specifics:

Genesis 21:10-14
“10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.
12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. . . . And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.”

Ishmael was Abraham’s “adopted” son, based on the rule that the son of the handmaid of his wife, if the baby was born “on her knees” (the wife), it would be legally considered his child. Yet things were not working out, the older son Ishmael was disrupting the family . . . and God directed a very hard solution, sending him and his biological mother away.

Bill has dealt with a lot of tough family situations over 50 years. There have been times where he has recommended that an adopted son or daughter be separated permanently from the family. Based on the account of Ishmael, this actually was better for both sides of the equation. Ishmael never acheived his personal potential until he was out on his own, and Isaac could not find his destiny with Ishmael in the house.

There are those that feel with every fiber of their being that this must never be. A “forever family” is “forever”. In defense of Bill, the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” engineered a different solution which in hindsight was best for everyone. I am tempted to split this off as a topic, but from past experience I would expect that there will be no bottom to the debate.

April 25, 2016    

That is an interesting interpretation however I have consulted quite a few commentaries none of which either in the exegesis nor the form of language refer to Ishmael as adopted. Ishmael was a biological son of Abraham nowhere does the text refer to him as adopted. It does however point to him as not being part of the seed (faith) Promise that was given to Abraham. Ishmael was cast out along with Hagar because they were not believers (especially Ishmael. The passage in its context has nothing to do with adoption. It does appear to be almost exclusively a Bill Gothard original. Just some noteworthy observations: Ishmael was not an infant when he was cast out he would have been at least 14 or 15. Isaac was born when Ishmael was 14. Once more Bill if you have correctly transmitted his belief on this matter misses the whole point of the text being one of belief in the covenant. and in Ishmael’s non belief. How does this give validation to abandoning adopted child who is unruly? It doesn’t! In terms of who would be more authoritative on the meaning of this text and its true application I will take the dozen or so scholars I consulted on this issue over someone whose approach borders on naturalism at best and Christianised mysticism at its worst.

April 25, 2016    

So . . . we did break this out as its own thread. Will respond there. I may regret this, but trying to respond in the cramped quarters of the “Questions” section seems completely unreasonable.

April 25, 2016    

good! get your bible ready we are going to school 😛

April 25, 2016    

Can’t wait!

April 26, 2016    

Your comment is awaiting moderation

From my previous response there are a number of issues that should be noted which precipitate Hagar and Ishmael being cast out so to speak.
Gen 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar.
Gen 16:2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.
Gen 16:3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.
Gen 16:4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.
Gen 16:5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me.”
Gen 16:6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.
Gen 16:7 Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.
Gen 16:8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”
Gen 16:9 Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.”
Gen 16:10 Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”
Gen 16:11 The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.
Gen 16:12 “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.”
Gen 16:13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”
Gen 16:14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.
Gen 16:15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
Gen 16:16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.
As I pointed out Ishmael was the biological offspring of Abraham he was not adopted
Secondly in Genesis Chapter 21: 1-11
Gen 21:1 Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.
Gen 21:2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.
Gen 21:3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.
Gen 21:4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
Gen 21:5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Gen 21:6 Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
Gen 21:7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Gen 21:8 The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.
Gen 21:9 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.
Gen 21:10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.”
Gen 21:11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.
Ishmael is now 14 years and Isaac is born. Two things to note from these passages A) Saria was jealous of Hagar and despised her for bearing Abraham a son and secondly Ishmael was either jealous of his half-brother Isaac when he was born or he felt threatened by Isaac’s existence because Isaac was born a legitimate son and therefore was Abraham’s heir, not Ishmael.
How Bill Gothard formulates his peculiar doctrine of adoption from this beggars belief. Abraham, had not Isaac been born could have acknowledged Ishmael as his heir however from a spiritual perspective it is clear that Ishmael lacked belief.
Looking to the history of these circumstances Sarah acknowledged that what she had done in giving Hagar to Abraham was wrong. Sarah and Hagar didn’t like each other it says Sarah despised or hated Hagar. Sarah acknowledged that rather than believe the Lord in faith that He would give her a son she took matters into her own hands and it don’t go well.
So why do I dispute Bill’s interpretation that it has anything to do with adoption? Specifically Paul in Ephesians chapter 1 and then also chapter 3 gives the spiritual application of the meaning of adoption that was a long held tradition and established practice both before during and long after Christ’s ministry. That practice is still in use today. To be adopted means to be privileged with all the same rights as a natural born child including inheritance of the benefits of son ship, and bequeathed the good of adoptive parent’s after they die without reservation. Paul points out that as heirs with Christ we receive all the spiritual benefits of eternal life that the Father has bequeathed to His Son. Our sin is overlooked because of what Christ had done for us, we are adopted not on the basis of anything we have done but what Christ has done for us.
Regardless of Bill’s experience his interpretation of Genesis 21 is simply wrong. Further to this it lacks the mercy and compassion of the Gospel and doctrine of adoption as expressed by Paul in Ephesians. Bill’s interpretation lacks any meaningful understanding of the gospel and also the meaning of the promise as expressed in Genesis 21 or why Ishmael and Hagar were cast out. Simply put they were unbelievers and not of the promised seed. This does not validate adoptive parents casting out unruly adoptive children today it has nothing to with adoption as Bill has suggested. Finally Bill appears to be completely ignorant of any of the spiritual principles involved, his interpretation and methodology is basically a mechanistic (naturalistic) approach to Scripture.
So the next question is does Paul contradict Genesis? No! Does Paul contradict Bill? Yes! Who has more authority on this matter? Paul! Bill’s interpretation and application of Genesis 21 is totally foreign to the context in which it exists. Bill’s interpretation is the very thing he has been accused of from very early on in his ministry eisegesis.
Here are some other relevant texts you might want to consult as well
Rom_4:14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;
Rom_8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Gal_3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Eph_3:6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
Tit_3:7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Heb_6:17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath,
Heb_11:9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;
Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Eph 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
Eph 1:8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
Eph 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
Eph 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
Eph 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Eph 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Eph 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Eph 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
Eph 1:16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Eph 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
Eph 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Eph 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
Eph 1:23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.



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